One of my favourite personal stories to share with confirmation students is my own recognition of Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread. When I was a catechumen (preparing to become Catholic and in RCIA), I had a meeting with the preparation team. I was very conscientious and a diligent student. I was on fire in my quest to be a Disciple of Jesus and to learn everything there was to learn about Him. We had been taught about the Eucharist and it was told to us that Catholics believe at Mass the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus. I did not believe it, and I told the teachers I could accept it as a symbol but “c’mon let’s not go too far!” It was at this point and with a discussion that my catechists told me that if I could not accept this, then I could not become a Catholic. I was very angry about this because I had been doing my best and my first reaction was to blame the catechists for not having taught me properly. I was not someone who was going to ‘buy in’ and you had to be reasonable. I was prepared to walk away believing that Jesus didn’t want me to be brainwashed into believing something about Him that wasn’t true.
My sponsor encouraged me to meet with our Associate Pastor, a very intellectually gifted man (a friend and now a seminary professor) and he could probably help me with this. He and I spoke for almost two hours on this and he offered me as much as he could. He couldn’t convince me, but what he told me as we were wrapping it up was so profound and is the essence of the story I am telling here today. He told me that to believe in Christ is a gift of faith, and it’s an actual gift. Believing in the Eucharist as a Catholic is also a gift and we need to ask God for gifts of faith. He told me the greatest theologians and teachers of the Church could share everything they had and not convince me of something that is a Mystery of Faith. He told me that I needed to ask God for it in prayer, which is what I did. I don’t remember the moment when I came to believe, but something happened within the next few weeks that allowed me to continue (because I was obstinately prepared to quit). I came to believe wholeheartedly by the time I was preparing for the Scrutinies and when I was received into the Church on April 19, 2003. Even more than this, I came to believe so truly and completely within two years of my being received because I discerned a vocation to the priesthood; to become in fact a Sacrament of the Sacraments.
I tell this story to young people because we doubt, we struggle, we sometimes come up short, we question God and desire Him to reveal Himself to us in more powerful ways than we experience every day. God does reveal Himself but we have to be open and ready to receive Him. He will answer what we ask of Him. He did for me. I was not as open as I needed to be, before that meeting, and after I almost became one of those people who departed when He revealed Himself as the Bread of Life. When I opened my heart, mind and soul – the Lord revealed Himself to me. Rarely does a young person have the dramatic experience they might hope for on the day of their Confirmation, like the Apostles did at Pentecost. But this story might help some to see and realize how openness to the Holy Spirit is important and that something is ignited whether they feel it or not as they begin the next important step on their faith journey.